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A supporter of Gambia's President Adama Barrow waves an ECOWAS flag at his swearing-in ceremony in February 2017. An ECOWAS court ruling calls on Gambia to repeal its criminal libel and false news laws. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon)

ECOWAS court rules Gambia violated rights of journalists

February 14, 2018 3:14 PM ET

New York, February 14, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Gambian government to act on a judgment passed today by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to immediately repeal its laws on criminal libel, sedition, and false news.

ECOWAS found that Gambia's laws criminalizing speech and its treatment of four journalists during their arrest violated their rights, a statement by the Media Legal Defence Initiative said. The journalists-- Fatou Camara, Fataou Jaw Manneh, Alhagie Jobe, and Lamin Fatty--live in exile for fear of further persecution, the statement said.

"We are delighted with today's judgment and see it as helping to close the door on the harassment of the press under Gambia's then President Yahya Jammeh," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Gambia's government, under President Adama Barrow, must ensure there are no delays in acting on the ECOWAS judgment so that the media can operate freely without fear of reprisal."

CPJ and partner organizations filed an amici curiae brief to ECOWAS as part of the case.

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